Whether you’re new to skincare, have no clue about it, an enthusiast or a junkie, we can all agree that the skincare trend is here to stay. Women (and men) are getting more involved in taking care of their skin and unleashing their inner beauty through that timeless skin glow.

With so much information online, numerous skincare brands, new products popping up every day, it can be overwhelming to know what your skincare essentials are, when to add the extra(s), and when to pass. This is why we felt the need to simplify the basic steps to guide you on your journey to healthy skin.

One thing to have in mind when approaching skincare is that ‘Skincare is not one-size-fits-all’. What works for the girl next door might not work for you, and that’s normal. Rather, knowing the right steps and right products will help you build your own skincare routine according to your skin concerns. It is also important to identify your skin type so as to get products suited to your skin’s specific needs. There are four main skin types – normal, dry, oily, and combination.

Dry, Normal, Oily, Combination skin
Four Main Skin Types


The first and most important step in skincare is to have a clean slate. Dirt, makeup, and impurities can lead to clogged pores which is one of the root causes of acne. Washing your face regularly (at least every day) is recommended.

What to look for: A gentle, pH-balanced (this makes toner optional) cleanser that won’t strip away your skin’s natural moisture.

Try: COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser 

Read Next: Here’s How Long You Should Be Washing Your Face


Cleansers and exfoliators tend to strip the skin of its much-needed moisture.  Moisturizers provide hydration; restore the skin’s natural moisture and protective barrier, and keep it radiant. Moisturizer is essential for every skin type, including oily skin. Depending on your skin type, the climate, your budget, moisturizer is customizable. Moisturizers can be grouped into three kinds; humectants, emollients, and occlusives.

Humectants draw/absorb water from the air to the skin surface to help the skin retain moisture. E.g. – glycerin, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera gel, urea.

Emollients  smooth and soften the skin by filling any gaps between the skin cells that are lacking moisturizing lipids. E.g. – fatty acids, ceramides, shea butter.

Occlusives act as moisture sealers by providing a physical barrier to prevent loss of water/moisture from the skin cells. E.g. – petrolatum, avocado oil.

Protect: Sunscreen

Sunscreen is the ideal anti-aging product. Sunscreen provides protection from UV rays (UVA & UVB). It prevents sunburn, hyperpigmentation, premature wrinkles & aging, and skin cancer. Some moisturizers also come with sun protection factor (SPF) which makes it easy to combine the previous step with this one. A minimum of broad-spectrum SPF 30 is recommended.

Sunscreen comes in two main flavors – physically and chemically acting ingredients. Most physical sunscreens contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and are responsible for the white-cast. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like homosalate, octisalate, avobenzone, oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene and are brown-skin friendly as they don’t leave you looking like a ghost. The great thing is today we have tons of sunscreen formulations to choose from – clear, lightweight, hydrating, mist… so you can say goodbye to those thick white pasty sunscreens that have you looking ashy and clog your pores.

Try: Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50, Neutrogena Hydro Boost  Sunscreen Water Gel Lotion SPF 50


So after covering the basics, there’s always room for some extra because it takes an army of ingredients to really target those skin concerns. Exfoliation especially is important as it helps our body speed up the shedding of those dead skin cells. It does the deep cleansing that your everyday washing can’t do. Exfoliation can either be physical (mechanical) or chemical and should be done every other day, say 2/3 times a week.

Physical (mechanical) exfoliators come in the form of microbeads (like sugar scrubs), sponges, brushes and they usually have an immediate effect after wash, which is softer, smoother skin.

Whereas chemical exfoliation includes the use of fruit enzymes, Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), and Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHAs). The effects of chemical exfoliation are not immediate but long-lasting.

AHAs work by loosening up the bonds holding the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, subsequently revealing smoother skin texture. Examples are glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid. BHAs (salicylic acid – the only known type) are oil-soluble, so they do not only work on the skin surface but penetrate deeper into the pores and get through the sebum (an oily substance produced by our skin), which makes them the best option for oily and combination skin types.

Fruit enzymes often derived from fruits like pineapple and papaya are best suited for those whose skin is sensitive towards acid exfoliators.

Try: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution


This is the part where we target those specific skin conditions such as acne, blemish control, hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, wrinkles, dehydration, texture irregularities, and so on. Serums are usually the go-to for treatments. Serums contain high concentrations of active ingredients in small molecules which allow them to penetrate deep into the skin.

Examples of Treatments;

Dehydration – Hyaluronic Acid

Acne – Benzoyl Peroxide, Tea Tree Oil

Hyperpigmentation – Vitamin C, Alpha Arbutin, Kojic Acid

Quick Recap and Order of Application

  1. Cleanse
  2. Exfoliate (optional)
  3. Treat (optional)
  4. Moisturize
  5. Protect: Sunscreen

These are the steps to keep in mind when building a skincare routine, for both beginners and enthusiasts. Step 1, 4, 5 are the essentials for every skin type, while 2 & 3 are also important but secondary. What this means is that if for instance, you have a budget for skincare and you’re trying to decide between getting a charcoal face mask and a moisturizer, go for the moisturizer.

Following this skincare guide with the right products (coming up in another postfor your skin type will help maintain healthy skin. Over time, it will also prevent and provide a remedy for a good number of skin concerns. Also, note that as your skin changes, so does your routine. As you understand your skin and its needs better, you can gradually build up your skincare stash.

Are you following the 5-step skincare routine? What’s your routine like? What are your favorite products to use for each step? Share with us in the comments. Share this post with a friend to enlighten them.

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